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Everybody loves the opportunity to bust a persistent myth (hence shows like Mythbusters racking up an impressive 19 seasons over the years!) In the world of orthodontics, we come across our fair share of myths related to everything from braces to overbites and back again.

At Dillehay Orthodontics, our patients are generally well-informed and come in already knowing quite a bit about orthodontic treatment, which we love! Unfortunately, however, some of that knowledge can come from misinformed friends and family, or from unreliable internet sources. Here we’ve collected – and busted! – 5 of the most common orthodontic myths we’ve come across.

MYTH: Traditional metal braces are my only orthodontic option for straight teeth

BUSTED: Modern orthodontics have made metal braces more comfortable and subtle than ever, but many people are still hesitant to wear them. The good news is, there are now multiple options to straighten and treat your teeth! With new technology, it is now possible to have straight teeth without ever having to wear braces!

At Dillehay Orthodontics, we’re proud to offer multiple alternatives to metal braces, such as clear or tooth-colored ceramic braces and less visible lingual braces, as well as the Invisalign clear aligner system. Invisalign has become the most popular way to straighten teeth without the use of traditional braces. The system instead uses a series of clear, customized aligners to gradually move teeth into a more pleasing position. It’s a great option for uncomplicated cases, and many of our teen and adult patients love the invisibility and removability of Invisalign!

MYTH: Once my braces come off, my teeth will stay straight

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BUSTED: Straightening your teeth and correcting your bite is only half the battle. Braces are designed to permanently straighten teeth, but your smile can still shift after alignment. Teeth are connected to the bone by elastic fibers, and as teeth are moved into their new straightened positions, some of those elastic fibers are stretched, while others are compressed. After your braces are removed, these elastic fibers will tend to try to push and pull your teeth back towards their original position. This is why orthodontic retainers are required when braces are removed! Most orthodontists recommend wearing your removable retainer every day for the first few months after your braces come off. From there, you can begin tapering down how often you wear it.

And don’t forget the importance of dental hygiene! Tooth loss and gum erosion are common causes of teeth shifting. Brushing and flossing thoroughly at least twice daily and scheduling regular dental check-ups will go a long way towards keeping your teeth as healthy as possible, protecting your straight smile in the process.

MYTH: My wisdom teeth are causing me crooked teeth!

BUSTED: It’s easy to understand why so many people think wisdom teeth can cause crowding of the other teeth, but there is now a pretty large body of evidence that disproves that theory. Studies have shown that teeth will drift forward throughout life naturally, whether the wisdom teeth are present or have been extracted. Even in people who have had all their wisdom teeth removed, teeth drift forward slightly over time, and the distance between some of the lower canine teeth gets narrower over the years. We still don’t completely understand why this happens, but we do know that the presence or absence of the wisdom teeth is not usually directly related. The size, shape, and original position of the teeth can all play a significant role in the development of any crowding.

Dillehay Orthodontics always stresses the importance of proper retainer wear after your treatment is complete. Wearing your retainers as instructed ensures your teeth won’t move regardless of whether or not you still have your wisdom teeth are there or not.

MYTH: Dentists and orthodontists are interchangeable

BUSTED: There are many similarities between orthodontists and dentists, but it’s the differences that set them apart. For example, all orthodontists and dentists graduate from dental school, but from there, orthodontists take a different path by attending additional schooling and training to specialize in straightening teeth. Only the top students in dental school are allowed to continue their education toward a specialty in orthodontics after graduation. Once accepted into an orthodontic residency program, orthodontists will take on two to three years of full-time training concentrating on orthodontia including braces, bite problems, and straightening teeth. Most regular dentists won’t have this kind of rigorous training. In the same way that medical doctors who want to specialize in a field such as cardiology or pulmonology will go on to do so after medical school, orthodontists are essentially dentists who have specialized, additional training.

MYTH: Orthodontic treatment is only for kids

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BUSTED: For a long time, orthodontists did treat mostly children and adolescents, but in recent years, the number of adults seeking orthodontic care has skyrocketed! Currently, adults make up about 25% of all orthodontic patients. You’re never too old to benefit from orthodontic treatment, because no matter what your age, proper aligned teeth contribute to your overall oral health and a beautiful smile.

Additionally, leaving misaligned teeth untreated could lead to other dental problems, such as tooth decay and gum disease, as well as the uneven wear and tear on tooth enamel, and difficulty in chewing. Adult orthodontic treatment can correct crooked teeth or spaces that you’ve been self-conscious about for years.  It can also create a better bite by fitting your teeth together better, and decrease the risk of future dental issues, like tooth decay and gum disease.

Age really isn’t a consideration when it comes to orthodontic treatment, since healthy teeth can be moved successfully at any age!

Separating fact from fiction with Dillehay Orthodontics

If you’re in Wichita or the surrounding area and looking for information on orthodontics you can trust, Dillehay Orthodontics has got you covered! With two experienced orthodontists and a talented, dedicated support team, we’ve got the knowledge you need to make an informed decision on orthodontic treatment for yourself or your child. We have three conveniently located offices, as well as two satellite offices, so no matter where you are in Wichita, get in touch with us today to set up an initial consultation. We can’t wait to make your new smile a reality!